GARY Caldwell believes Will Grigg will return from his international break refreshed and raring to go for Wigan Athletic.
The 24-year-old is back with his colleagues at Christopher Park having been away with Northern Ireland for their crucial Euro 2016 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Hungary.
Latics managed to overcome the absence of their marquee summer signing with a dramatic 3-2 victory at Chesterfield last weekend.
But Caldwell is happy to welcome back the £1million man to the fold ahead of Saturday’s trip to Port Vale.
“Will’s done brilliant since he came into the club,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“He’s shown what a top player he is, and gave us a great striking option. But as I said all along, it’s a squad you need if you want to be successful, and the boys who came in on Saturday were excellent.
“Will has come back into the group and will be available for selection, which is great. If you’ve not got competition for places, then that’s a huge issue. Thankfully we have it.”
Grigg was an unused sub in both games as Northern Ireland took a huge step towards next summer’s finals in France by accruing four points.
But Caldwell took no satisfaction in seeing him spared from the risk of injury.
“I would have loved him to have played,” the Scot insisted.
“There’s no greater thing in football than playing for your country, and I would love all our players to be going away because that means they’re doing well for us.”
While Northern Ireland stand on the verge of qualification, the situation is less encouraging for Scotland.
The Latics chief was at Hampden on Monday to see the Scots beaten 3-2 by world champions Germany to leave them fourth in their group and requiring snookers.
“I saw us playing against a world-class team with outstanding players,” Caldwell gushed. “They play a system that’s difficult to stop, they move the ball around and ask you questions.
“I thought the boys were outstanding in their work rate and application, but sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and accept you’re playing against a top team.”
And Caldwell is refusing to write off Scotland just yet.
“I still think there’s a big chance, if they can win their last two games, they can qualify, or at least get into the play-offs,” he added. “Poland at home is winnable, and Gibraltar away should take care of itself. It’s not beyond us.”
Meanwhile, Latics are being strongly linked with an emergency loan move for Crystal Palace defender Paddy McCarthy, 32.